The only way to break through this impenetrable wall of prejudice is through awareness, empathy and respect, and preferably instigated by the guests of a hosting culture.
(PRWEB) September 04, 2012
CNN reports while U.S. commander General John Allen blames the latest string of insider attacks by members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) against Western troops on shortened tempers due to Ramadan and the oppressive August heat, the Afghan government complains that foreign troops continually ignore key aspects of local culture. Cultural awareness author, Victoria Ugarte warns that continued ignorance of Afghanistan’s values, norms and practices will only serve to escalate hostilities and keep the troops from achieving their goals of partnering with Afghan soldiers and securing the local population.
While foreign troops accuse Afghan soldiers of incompetence, laziness and corruption, the Afghan government continually sites examples of insolence by foreign troops towards local customs as the key to rising local resentments. The Pashtuns in Afghanistan, the largest ethnic group, are renown for their deep sensitivity towards their religion and their highly conservative culture.
Victoria Ugarte, author of book Culture Savvy For Women, says, “A person’s moral, religious and philosophical values and practices are at the very core of their culture. All cultural conflicts stem from incompatible value systems. The only way to break through this impenetrable wall of prejudice is through awareness, empathy and respect, and preferably instigated by the guests of a hosting culture.”
Ugarte offers some important cultural awareness tips for Afghanistan:
- The Qur’an or Koran is considered a sacred text and is used as the basis for all guidance in Afghanistan. It prescribes a way of life that governs political, legal, and social behavior for both society and the individual. The Koran must be handled with the deepest respect and never by a non-Muslim. Any defiling or defacing of the Koran is regarded by Muslims as a desecration and highly blasphemous.
- A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. It is important that one’s dress and behavior in a mosque be dictated to by modesty, respect and reverence at all times.
- Practiced in Afghanistan, "Purdah" means the concealment of women from men who are not their husbands or family members; the privacy of women is protected at all costs. While women are required to cover most of their bodies, non-related males may not gaze at, touch, directly address, use profanities in front of, or dress immodestly in front of women. Gazing at women in magazines is also considered disrespectful.
- Being invited to someone’s home is an honor. The elder males are considered to be the heads of the family and must be treated with respect. Guests must stand when an older person enters a room and greet the eldest person in a room before others present. A guest must also take care to sit with feet firmly on the ground. Stretching out, showing the soles of the feet, crossing the legs, leaning against walls, slouching in chairs, keeping hands in pockets, or leaving sunglasses on while in someone’s home are all signs of disrespect.
As a last word, Ugarte adds, “When people make a connection on a cultural level, empathy is established and an openness and trust is introduced into the relationship. Once trust is established, people start recognizing the similarities in each other rather than focusing on the differences. Cultural awareness can only engender pride and confidence. The cultural awareness strategy of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, or lack thereof, can end up dictating whether this happens or not.”
About The Author: Victoria Ugarte, the Intrepid Traveler, is becoming known around the world as one of the most recognized faces of travel and culturally correct behavior. Victoria has authored several books with Amazon, including “Culture Savvy For Women” and “Travel Bible For Women”. You can find Victoria, wherever she is in the world, by going to http://www.ExploreMyWorldTravel.com.